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Salesforce Heretic » Salesforce Summer ‘06 & The Heretic’s Crystal Ball….

August 2, 2006

Salesforce Summer ‘06 & The Heretic’s Crystal Ball….

Filed under: Salesforce.com, The Soapbox — heretic @ 3:05 pm

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Unfortunately life as a consultant means that you have to take jobs that drop you into a perverbial black hole. Hence why I haven’t been making many posts in the last weeks. Unfortuntely while I was in the black hole Salesforce released Summer ‘06. I didn’t have a chance to opine on the release so I’ll cover that briefly, and look back at the last year, and forward to the next in this post….


First, Summer ‘06. The feature list from the release notes:

  • Salesforce PRM
  • Service Entitlements
  • Lead History Tracking
  • Advanced Call Scripting
  • SAP R/3 Connector
  • AppExchange Mobile Enhancements

Ok, lets take a look at these new features, starting with Salesforce PRM, via the AppExchange. Priced at “$1,500 per partner company” this is not exactly an add on to the core product, and it’s not a feature - it’s an add on. While were at it, lets lump in the SAP R/3 connector in the same category - it’s not a feature, it’s an add on, and an expensive one from what I’ve heard. (Of course if you’re using SAP R/3 in the first place everything is relative.)

Service entitlements looks nice, and advanced call scripting we’ve seen before in various SFDC demos at their events. Nice to see them on the app exchange. Nothing really earth-shattering for the majority of the customer base, and not exactly ‘new’ or something that couldn’t have been done before.

AppExchange Mobile looks like it got some nice improvments for those on unlimited edition or those paying for the add-on. But it’s an add-on for most, not a base feature.

So our new feature list for what I strongly suspect is the majority of the customer base looks like this:

  • Salesforce PRM
  • Service Entitlements
  • Lead History Tracking
  • Advanced Call Scripting
  • SAP R/3 Connector
  • AppExchange Mobile Enhancements

Ouch.

Now I know that, personally, alot of managers will be happy to see history tracking in the lead. But what happens when it becomes an account/contact/opporunity? What about tracking those fields (or custom fields in the opportunity)? How do we track those changes going forward? At least we can enter notes and attachements now with leads, (as I hear a collective ‘about time’ in the background). If Salesforce recgonizes how important a feature like this is: “Tracking information is key to managing your business processes effectively, such as who changed information, when it was changed, and what was changed.” (Release Notes, pg. 26) How can they miss the glaring omission of tracking changes in custom objects, accounts, contacts, opportunity custom fields, case custom fields, contract custom fields, assets, etc?

Honestly, why even bother calling this Summer ‘06? At least the marketing department disn’t go crazy sending out swag to a bunch of people promoting the release. Oh, wait. They did. Really, the big announcement here is PRM and the SAP connector. Both of which took their own headlines, so why the release nomenclature? I’m sure there are some admins who are happy to get the updates now, instead of mabye later this year (or whenever the next release is — AFAIK there’s no official timeline yet, but I’ve been in a black hole so forgive me), but this isn’t your typical SFDC release.
Now that I’ve beaten a dead horse pony ant, lets take a stoll down amnesia lane and a look thru the Heretic’s Crystal Ball…

Excluding this Summer ‘06 release the last several reseases have all been very feature-significant. By that I mean large, widely distributed ‘core’ features. For the most part, not add on component$. They brought us things like formula fields, API opimizations (describeSobjects()), new objects (Assets), the ability to create a lookup field on a standard object, etc. Big things for most of the customer base. (Obviously API for Team edition aside….)

How does Summer ‘06 relate to the previous releases? In short, it doesn’t. Not even close. I remember the 120+ page release note documents full of core features. (This one ~47 pages, most of which covering how to install/use the AppExchange components.) So what happened? What the heck has SFDC been doing for the last 8+ months?

Let me be blunt (not that I’m ever not): It’s put up or shut up time at SFDC. You either grow or shrink. If you sit back on your larurels you will die — there is no such thing as stagnating in the modern marketplace. Innovate or die.

Again: Innovate or die.

This next release needs to be a slam dunk. It needs to show that Summer ‘06 was a ‘glitch’ that the 120 page release document is tiny in comparison. This means features that are “complete”, not full of, “except” this, or “except” that. If there is another release this year (the Dreamforce pages refer to a Winter ‘07, but no timeline), it will likely be the only significant release for the platform inside of a year. Show us what you’ve been doing for the last year+.

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5 Comments


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    Heretic - I agree with you the fact that this release was the poorest I’ve seen, however it may be what we haven’t seen is what significant? Since the black of Feb this year Salesforce had some major issues with performance. Since then in talking with PM’s and developers about upcoming things I was told every time, everything’s on hold till performance is fixed. Since that time I have yet experienced an ‘outage’, ok maybe some indexing issues but other than that. (to which I know you keep a closer eye on than myself) Hence what we don’t see in this release is the resource and time they put into keeping their promise of 99.99%

    Just a thought.

    Comment by
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    Fifedog — August 3, 2006 @ 9:52 am


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    I know what you’re saying, and I do know a good deal about what has actually transpired @ SFDC between late last year and up thru a few months ago, both from official and unofficial sources.

    Yes, uptime is important. working to better uptime is important. However, is it really realistic to expect the customer base to jump up and shout, “Yes! My CRM service is still working!” It’s kinda expected that the platform be available.

    If anyone @ SFDC wishes to comment publically I will be happy to give them the opporunity to do it here in a comment, or even a full post.

    I’ve never moderated* any posts here, and don’t plan to start.

    (* Except SPAM, and the 1 SFDC employee post that got auto-marked as SPAM because of too many links in the comment — I approved it within a few hours w/o edit)

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    heretic — August 3, 2006 @ 10:32 am


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    No I’m not expecting people to shout, that’s not what I said. I said the lack of features released, I think, was a direct result of the performance issues. What hurts us more right now, performance or features we don’t have? That doesn’t mean I’m not holding Salesforce to delivery BIG things at this years Dreamforce and the following release of Spring. Those two releases I hope make my jaw drop.

    I hope to be giving more of an optimistic point of view of this so called release, than you are, that’s all. :D

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    Fifedog — August 3, 2006 @ 11:50 am


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    Quick clarification - I wasn’t intending to sugguest you think the users should stand up and shout. I was using it metaphorically to express the point that performance is expected, users demand it, and this is an on-demand platform. ;)

    As far as the lack of features in this release, I completely agree as to the reasons why. SFDC stated on multiple occasions that fixing their performance issues was their top priority, unfortunately this release shows it. My, admittedly unrealistic view, is that customers expect performance, period. That’s what they pay $xx/mo for. They also expect SFDC to deliver features and releases as they historically have. (3 BIG releases/yr - more or less) In combination with the events of late last year thru the early part of this, holding both views may have been unrealistic, but I’m sure some customers still did.

    And as far as being optimisitc. I like to be optimistic. However I’m also a realist - i.e. history has shown that SFDC tends to release ‘major’ features with, in some cases, a significant set of limitations. Do I therefore expect this to continue? Yes, because historically it’s been true. Do I challenge and encourage SFDC to show me wrong, and outdo my lowered expectations? Bet your ass I do. I _want_ to be proven wrong in my predictions and assessments. I _want_ SFDC to step up and say, “No, you’re wrong. We’ve got a long series of features that are in development. We’re ready to innovate again. We’re now providing feedback and information on bug fixes and telling you when they’re fixed. etc etc etc.”

    Sure as hell, I don’t spend my time writing, talking, calling, emailing, and pestering SFDC, the community, and readers of my blog for my own kicks. I do it because SFDC, in my view, is at times a group of people all wearing those 80’s mirrored sunglasses — with the mirrors on the inside. I do it to show the opposing, unconventional, or unspoken viewpoint. I do it to enlighten those at SFDC who can, and do listen, and who are empowered to react. I do it to make the software better, to make our experience with it better, and make our jobs easier.

    I just do it differently then most. :D

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    heretic — August 3, 2006 @ 12:09 pm


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    I, and probably most customers, are 100% in agreement with you Heretic. When we first signed up (around 16 months ago) we were told there would be 4 releases per year, which quickly became three and now is down to two. Though I’m hesitant to count the Summer release as an actual release as they didn’t even bother to fix some major bugs in their product, such as dependant picklists not working properly in the offline edition.

    The Winter release needs to have some major new features to overcome the underwhelming Summer release. They need to be generally available features as well. Last year they announced two major features that are both not available without permission being granted (Agent Console and Territory Management).

    Comment by
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    E.J. — August 9, 2006 @ 11:00 am

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